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Venezuela hits out at Colombia over cross-border crime issues

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: A statement from the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela accuses its neighbor Colombia of tVenezuelan Presidentrying to displace attention from what it says is its failure to stop the “paramilitary” and other armed forces and criminal gangs from acting in Venezuela.

The five-page statement questions Colombia’s ability to address the root causes of the issue, which has caused Venezuela to host some five million refugees fleeing violence caused by cocaine trafficking and the armed conflict between the Government and revolutionary armed forces.

Venezuela accuses Colombia of mistreating its citizens at the border, and says it is “tired of waiting for a responsible solution” from their neighbours and so chose to provisionally close the borders last week in order to deal with the threat. It says that while they have not changed their policy toward their neighbour, Colombia must clean up its act.

Venezuela says it is asking for a meeting between the Foreign Ministers of both countries to address the issue.

Al-Jazeera reports that the two countries have recalled their ambassadors, and Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro extended on Friday the border closure, which originally applied to a heavily trafficked stretch of border comprising six towns.

Venezuela and Colombia have been locked in a diplomatic row since Maduro closed part of the border last week after unidentified assailants attacked a Venezuelan anti-smuggling patrol, wounding three soldiers and a civilian.

He blamed the attack on right-wing paramilitaries from Colombia.

Venezuelan officials have deported more than 1,000 Colombian migrants and another 5,000 have left voluntarily, with some carrying all of their belongings across a muddy river.

According to Reuters, the Organization of American States (OAS) will not hold a meeting to discuss the issue after Colombia failed to garner enough votes in favor of its proposal.

The call for a meeting needed the support of 18 of 34 OAS members – it came in one short, with 17 votes in favor. Five countries voted against the proposal and 11 abstained.

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